A Tour Through Belgium: Liege-style Brussels Sprouts

Alright, I confess, I’ve never been to Belgium. I think I’d like to go, but it hasn’t been on my route yet. My closest encounters with the small European country are a love of Brussels sprouts, Belgian fries and Hercule Poirot. Aside from the aforementioned sprouts and fries, I know very little of Belgian cuisine. I had picked up some beautiful little Brussels sprouts at the store the other day, and decided that I wanted to try something new with them, something that didn’t involve actually cooking the sprouts. I wondered if the Belgians had a preferred method of cooking Brussels sprouts. I didn’t get that far in my research though, because I found something that seemed too good to pass up. I found a salad called Salade Liegeoise, which is basically green beans with a bacon, onion and vinegar dressing. Some versions add potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, making a Belgian version of Salade Nicoise. Others are more pure. As I read these recipes, I had a burst of inspiration: why not substitute Brussels sprouts for the green beans? The hot dressing is poured over the sliced sprouts to gently wilt them without destroying their refreshing crunch and sweet flavor (remember, the less you cook Brussels sprouts, the less bitter they are). I hope you’ll give this a try!

Here’s What You Will Need:

  • 1/2 pound fresh Brussels Sprouts.  Choose bright green sprouts with tight heads and no brown spots.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 oz thick bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, large pieces of fat removed
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • Finely ground black pepper to taste

Here’s What You Do:

Core Sprouts by making inverted V cuts in the bottom end, then slice thinly crosswise. Separate the layers gently with your fingers. Place sprouts in serving bowl and set aside.

Remove ends of onion, peel and halve through the root end. Slice crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Separate.

Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, and cook until most fat has been rendered (cooked out). 

Add onions and cook until tender and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. 

Add vinegar, salt and sugar to the pan. Cook until hot and sugar is dissolved. Season to taste with pepper. Immediately pour over sliced sprouts. 

Thoroughly mix dressing with sprouts. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

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